Perry to hand key Regina Road contract to Negrini’s employers

CROYDON IN CRISIS: Having said he would begin legal proceedings to recover some of the former CEO’s £437,000 ‘Golden Handshake’, the Tory Mayor is now hiring the company that has appointed the self-acclaimed regeneration expert as a director. EXCLUSIVE by STEVEN DOWNES

Reward for failure: ex-council CEO Jo Negrini

Less than three years since Jo “Negreedy” Negrini walked out of the exit door at Fisher’s Folly with nearly half-a-million pounds tucked into her designer briefcase, and the multi-national company which currently employs her is back in the borough, having landed a consultancy from Mayor Jason Perry.

According to official council reports published ahead of Wednesday’s meeting of Perry’s cabinet, Arup has been hired by Croydon to undertake a structural survey of the residential blocks at Regina Road, and the Wates-built council flats elsewhere in the borough.

The Regina Road blocks caused a national scandal in early 2021 when their state of disrepair – much of it having accumulated during the time Negrini was the authority’s chief exec – was exposed in an ITV News report for the “dangerous squalor” inflicted on council tenants living there.

Negrini had quit Croydon in August 2020, with the council on the brink of bankruptcy, but not before she negotiated a pay-off of £437,000.

Since her departure, Negrini has been working first as an independent consultant for Arup and then, since earlier this year on the pay-roll as Arup’s “director, cities and planning design”. A recent soft-focus profile described Negrini as “leading” on Arup’s “regeneration work in the UK and globally”.

“Jo currently leads on the delivery of Arup’s cities programme, working with Arup offices globally to assess the wider context for Arup’s work and developing local city strategies to respond to key challenges,” the profile, on the website of New London Architecture, one of the cheerleaders when Negrini was running Croydon (they even gave her an award!). When she was in charge at the council, Negreedy managed to lavish large amounts of public money on architects, consultants… and Arup.

“Prior to Arup, Jo worked for over 20 years in the public sector delivering regeneration and planning for a number of London boroughs.” Notice how the words “Brick by Brick” and “Croydon” are carefully omitted from Negreedy’s whitewashed CV.

“Jo’s work is driven by a commitment to sustainability in its broadest sense and ensuring that communities can influence and play an active role in their neighbourhood and city’s future,” they gushed.

Exposed: the 2021 ITV News caused a scandal when it uncovered long-term mismanagement and neglect by the council over the Regina Road flats

So it’s just possible that Negrini might have more than a passing interest in Arup’s work on the LPS (Large Panel System) blocks at Regina Road and across the borough.

The council has decided, with agreement from the Regina Road residents, to demolish the three blocks on their estate, as the 60-year-old buildings are deemed to be beyond repair. The Arup consultancy assignment indicates that the other, similar blocks in Croydon may soon have to be considered for a similar fate.

London-based Arup has 17,000 staff in 90 offices around the world, providing design, engineering, architecture, planning and advisory services across every aspect of the built environment. Arup has famously worked on building the Sydney Opera House, The Shard and the London Olympics Aquatics Centre.

For Croydon Council, Arup’s work will be more prosaic, and will be undertaken in two phases – first data analysis and then, according to the council papers, “Stage 2 is intrusive investigations”.

This, the council report says, “will provide further information on the likely structural condition of the LPS block which will inform the wider strategy to be adopted by the council of the remaining LPS blocks.”

The council report has the snappy title, Procurement of Architectural Professional Consultancy Services for Regina Road Project, South Norwood, and Malton House, to the Grant of Planning Permission and production of technical design for contractor procurement and on-site works – Part A.

The recommendation of Mayor Perry is that Arup is handed the work. The Tory councillors on the cabinet always rubber-stamp piss-poor Perry’s decisions and are not known for ever questioning the part-time Mayor’s judgements.

Having been elected in 2022 to bring to account those responsible for bankrupting the borough, it was in March this year that Mayor Perry finally got round to actioning legal moves to recover all, or part, of Negrini’s massive pay-off.

This is despite, as revealed exclusively by this website, Croydon having received high-level legal advice that he would be “throwing good money after bad” in the futile quest.

Now, it appears, Perry is about to shovel even more public cash the way of Negrini, or at least her employers.

Any indication of the cost of hiring the company that employs Negrini is tucked away in a secret, “Part B” section of the cabinet papers.

Directive: Jason Perry’s cabinet always does what they are told

“The three exempt appendices are confidential because they contain commercially sensitive information in relation to estimates of construction costs and fees payable. If these are disclosed, it will guide developers, contractors and consultants towards the upper end of internal estimates, and this will not be in the public interest because it will result in higher prices than necessary,” says the report from the cash-strapped council.

“Quality modern housing fit for purpose is a critical aspect and intrinsic part of the [Housing Revenue Account] asset management strategy and business plan to ensure the correct management and health and safety of our homes.” Which is nice.

The council wants “an early start on site in December 2024… This proposed procurement including the supporting consultants [is] essential to obtain a Planning Consent and the technical design”. The council, as the local planning authority, is unlikely to be much of a barrier to any granting of planning consent. The December 2024 deadline is in order to secure millions of pounds in housing grants from the Mayor of London.

The council report also exposes quite how winnowed out the authority has become of experienced, qualified staff. It dismisses the possibility of itself conducting the work about to be outsourced to Arup because, “There are no staff capable of handling the extensive and specialised work involved. An extensive and lengthy recruitment would be involved.

“The competency of newly recruited in-house staff will be untested compared to experienced external consultants.

“Also, the council do [sic] not have the current internal resources or infrastructure to manage a significant professional recruitment programme.”

Negrini’s toxic legacy for Croydon seems certain to be felt for years to come. But at least her employers at Arup look set to benefit…

Read more: Housing scandal investigation finds systemic failure and incompetence
Read more: Only 10% of council housing repair jobs ever get checked
Read more: Croydon shamed over ‘dangerous squalor’ in council flats

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6 Responses to Perry to hand key Regina Road contract to Negrini’s employers

  1. Ian Ross says:

    Perhaps Negrini will work pro bono until her ludicrous payoff is paid back.

  2. Ian Kierans says:

    Remarkably and totally out of touch. So lets get this straight Is the Councillor who was blaming Negrini (but voted through a lot she put forward) and wanted to reclaim money from her for poor performance now suggesting that the Company she is involved with (who may not have done anything wrong per se) as a direcotor be given a contract pertaining to Regina Road?
    This is the same Negrini on who’s watch Regina road tenants and leaseholders suffered dreadfully with Axis and were treated appalingly by both contractors and Council under Negrini?
    This Councillor who is now executive Mayor? So this contract was put out to Public tender and followed appropriate Public service procurement rules? So there was no use of personal knowledge of Croydon Council involved in that bid?
    How to add insult to injury!

    One would think that Perry being involved in Fishers disasterous run up of debt and voting some of Newmans additional shit through would have at least learned from experiences. Clearly not.
    In additional does Mr McArdle not have a media radar on how this looks?

    Labour may have done some bad things under Newman – but this lot put are putting him well in the shade.
    Sir Keir Starmer must be laughing in his boots at his new secret weapon. I almost feel sorry for Flip Flop Philp – but hey same cloth.
    I do note that a number of Webb Estate residents are voting with their feet after his excremental consultative process.

    There is a severe case of Foot in Mouth disease at Fishers Folly!

  3. derekthrower says:

    Lets look on the bright side. At least Brick by Brick are not handling the contract.

    • Ian Kierans says:

      Debt by Debt was on Negrini’s watch. So in a way they are involved. It would be really useful to hear what Ms Negrini has to say, but sadly £400k+ buys the Sound of Silence.

  4. Laurence Fisher says:

    Could this be a ‘Blair move’? Some brightspark once gave Bliar the role of Peace Envoy. i.e., he had to do his job, nor could he turn it down in the face of the world or sector. Or is it, just possibly, another Croydon Council balls up. Toss of a coin really…

  5. Lewis White says:

    This sounds potentially rather dangerous.

    Is it wise for the council to place a multi-million project with a firm employing the Council’s former Chief Executive ? The spectre is that that very person may well end up appointing architects to design the replacement for Regina Road.

    maybe even one of the Brick by Brick architects.
    And-as Principal Project manager, Mr Colm Lacey ! How about that !

    What a triumph !

    Forget the redundancy cheque of what ever it was.
    The Council offered it. She accepted it. It was paid. Legal contract. End of.

    The idea of clawing it back was totes ri-dic-u-lousy.

    That’s all water under the bridge, and the Council should have put a lot of it—-
    clear blue water — between itself and the former CeO.

    But this is Croydon. The waters are not blue, but like Loch Ness–. very deep, very dark, murky waters– containing possibly, a prehistoric Monster, that any minute might rear up out of the depths, with unknown consequences.

    Or like land of Beowulf, where very bad things happen at night—- Grendel comes out of the darkness, grabs and eats who ever is available, then, blood spattered and temporarily satiated, blunders back out into the night. For 12 whole years.

    Yes….. we need a Beowulf with a very special sword to slay the monster if it comes out of hiding.

    Or, talking of swords, St George …… his cv comes with good previous experience of dragon slaying……

    or another saint, Michael. Archangel of that ilk. Defeated the dragon who was really the devil in disguise.

    Yes….. St. Michael.

    St Michael of Gove

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